Bruce Kasanoff
Ghostwriter,
Kasanoff Ghostwriting

I spent the holidays with highly accomplished professionals including three physicians, one attorney, and an entrepreneur. All but one took me aside to ask whether they should start using social media for career purposes, which is something, none of them have done before. In each case, they were wrestling with two questions:

Why should I interact publicly with clients/patients instead of privately?

The answer to this one is easy: most of the best opportunities come from weak social connections, rather than strong ones. By interacting with your contacts online, you create opportunities for weak connections to notice your interests and skills.

Why should I interact publicly with clients/patients instead of privately?

For this reason, social media is even better than a personal letter, which is a wonderful tool to strengthen an existing relationship, but a poor one to establish new relationships. Done right, social media can expand and deepen your network. It also can reveal opportunities that otherwise would never have come to your attention.

Here's a critical point: the right way to use social media is to help others.

Does this mean that an attorney should discuss client confidential information online, or that a physician should deliver bad news by Twitter instead of face-to-face? Of course not! Social media is not the place for confidential discussions.

But an attorney can certainly share why he found last week's conference so fascinating, and a physician can share why she was so impressed by the way one patient turned "boring" physical therapy into an enjoyable game.

How do I get started?

When you are ten years behind everyone else, social media can seem more than a little overwhelming. I gave my friends five basic steps to get started:

1.) Pick ONE focus for each of your social media profiles

Fuzzy profiles don't work, because they are not easily repeatable. You may be a famous actor and an accomplished interior designer, but you have to decide which to highlight. Multiple messages confuse people and ensure you will never, ever get business through social media. (I'm not telling you how to lead your life, only how to structure your profiles.) To solve this dilemma, you might create a Houzz profile (Houzz is a web site and online community about architecture, interior design and decorating, landscape design and home improvement.) that highlights your design work and a Twitter account on which you post acting-related tweets. Likewise, a marketing manager/abstract painter may use LinkedIn for marketing and Facebook for painting.

When you are ten years behind everyone else, social media can seem more than a little overwhelming. I gave my friends five basic steps to get started:

Fuzzy profiles don't work, because they are not easily repeatable. You may be a famous actor and an accomplished interior designer, but you have to decide which to highlight. Multiple messages confuse people and ensure you will never, ever get business through social media. (I'm not telling you how to lead your life, only how to structure your profiles.) To solve this dilemma, you might create a Houzz profile (Houzz is a web site and online community about architecture, interior design and decorating, landscape design and home improvement.) that highlights your design work and a Twitter account on which you post acting-related tweets. Likewise, a marketing manager/abstract painter may use LinkedIn for marketing and Facebook for painting.

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2) Pick short, powerful phrases to describe yourself

I'm talking about the words that appear right under your name on most social profiles. I reduced mine down to one: ghostwriter. Unless you are President of the United States or CEO of Apple, don't just put your title here. Come up with a phrase that is the perfect response to a search that should pull up your profile. For example, if you are looking to become a goalie in the National Hockey League, your tagline might be: winning college hockey goalie. By the way, most people ignore this strategy; they just list their title. The reason my strategy works so well is because the vast majority of people don't use it.

3) Add a powerful summary

The difference between, say, a LinkedIn summary and your resume is that the summary can say what you want to do, rather than just listing what you have already done. It should be short, clear and focused. Here's how mine starts:

Everything about my profile is designed to answer the questions of someone who is searching for a ghostwriter. Is being a ghostwriter the only thing that matters to me in the world? No. But the focus of my LinkedIn profile is to connect me with ghostwriting clients.

Structure your summary to attract the kind of people that matter to you, such as new clients or prospective employees.

4) Invest in a great picture

Nothing bothers me more than a profile picture in which the person has an extra arm around their shoulders, as though they cut their spouse or significant other out of the shot. The same goes for dimly-lit images. This is your one chance to make a great first impression - don't waste it. If you can't figure out a way to take a good picture, don't bother using social media for professional purposes. Seriously!

5.) Connect online with your most valuable professional contacts

Without an exception, none of my five friends have proactively invited others to connect. For example, the entrepreneur has about 10,000 contacts in his phone, but fewer than 150 on any single social media platform. The few contacts he has online are mostly vendors of some sort; almost none are the clients who generate all his income. Once you connect with your clients and other valuable contacts, they will start to see your activities. This makes it possible to them to respond in the ways you want others to respond, perhaps by making a referral to you or reaching out to you with relevant and useful information.

Source: LinkedIn.